Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today said that there should no longer be any doubt about the intent of the D.C. abortion ban bill scheduled for a House floor vote on Tuesday. The bill (H.R. 3803), sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), would ban abortions in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Since its introduction in January, Norton has argued that the anti-choice special interest groups limited the bill's application to the District in order to avoid drawing the attention of the American public, particularly women, while still getting a federal imprimatur, at least from the House, where Republicans hold the majority, for a direct attack on Roe v. Wade. House leadership has abetted this act of subterfuge by choosing a floor procedure that will minimize public scrutiny. The bill will be brought to the floor under suspension of the rules, which limits debate to only 20 minutes per side and prevents all amendments. While the anti-choice special interest groups named the bill their top legislative priority upon introduction, their public statements, until now, in support of the bill had focused on preventing abortions in only the District. That all changed on Friday, when they finally acknowledged the national implications of the bill, calling Tuesday's vote "a landmark" that would "lay the foundation" for a nationwide ban on post-20-week abortions.
"The American people need to know what is at stake on Tuesday," Norton said. "This is not the typical anti-home-rule bill, where Republicans use the District to push their pet political issues and only District residents and their right to self-government are harmed in the process. Instead, this bill is the key element of a state-by-state campaign to undermine a woman's right to choose and to overturn the law of the land."
Norton and D.C. residents have not fought this battle alone. A coalition of national and local pro-choice and pro-home-rule groups has rallied to D.C.'s defense, helping to bring national attention to the bill. Norton especially appreciates that NARAL Pro-Choice America has informed members of Congress that it will "score" the vote on the bill to hold members accountable.